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  • Cassius Downs

4 Flight Travel Tips to Europe - Save Time and Money

Picture of a flight going to Europe
Image via Wine By Appointment LLC, figure generated by A1

Want to travel to Europe for less cost? Want more time 'being' in Europe rather than rushing around Europe? Then read on and explore four travel tips on flights to Europe to save time and money. These are a series of blogs that provide specific topics for you to consider, so read on for this travel tip and why I recommend it.

Why read further? I worked for an airline for 15 years and have traveled the world for many years. I'm sharing my knowledge and top tips with you, which can save you time and money. Once you read these 4 travel tips on flights to Europe, act on them to enjoy being in Europe.

Airfare- 4 Flight Travel Tips

Arrival City

Where your flight arrives could save you time and money. A city that is a short train ride from a major city can cost you much less. In Europe, most airports require you to take a train, cab, or drive to get to the arrival city anyway.

  • Arrival City Costs Vary – if you are going to travel to multiple cities, look at the airfares to each and consider starting your visit there or in another city nearby.

    • A flight to Verona, Italy, may be cheaper, and you're only 45 minutes from Venice, 90 minutes from Florence or Milan, and 1 hour from Bologna by train. You might even see the Alps out the airplane window as you arrive in Verona.

  •  Arrive and Depart from Different Cities – airlines call these 'open jaw' airfares that allow you to land in one city and depart from another city for the same cost or less than a single city roundtrip airfare.

    • I recently did so in Germany, where I landed in Frankfurt and departed from Munich for a lower cost than a Frankfurt roundtrip ticket.


Airline Used

Airlines, both USA and international airlines, charge different fares for the same arrival city. Sometimes, it's even on the same flight.


  • Airlines Code Sharing – different airlines (59 USA and international airlines) can have different costs for the same trip because airlines have joined specific airline alliances, allowing each member airline to book their passengers under their airline's name on another airline's flight at different fares.

    • I found multiple fares for the same seat and booked a cheaper fare on Lufthansa than United was charging on the same plane.

  •  Airline Onboard Service Varies - I've traveled to Europe on US and international carriers. I find the international carriers' fares often cheaper, seats with more room, and the inflight service better.

    • US flight attendants often seem overworked and burned out. European Airlines' flight attendants work fewer hours and seem happier to see you.


Non-Stop Flights

Non-stop flights often cost much more than connecting flights do. You might even be able to use a connection city as a free stopover and take a flight to your final destination later.

  • Within the USA, you can connect from multiple cities, often at a lower cost, and the dates, times, and seat availability maybe even better than on a non-stop flight.

    • I've sometimes stopped off in New York City on my way to Europe to break up a long flight and multiple time zone changes.

  •  Within Europe – you can connect from multiple cities in Europe to your destination. The dates, times, and seat availability may be even better than the non-stop flight or the connection within the USA.

    • My relatives book connecting flights on European budget airlines with much lower fares in Europe that do not show on internet travel booking sites like Expedia.

When to Book

There are some well-known patterns to the way airlines set prices that you can use to save time and money as you book travel.

  • 1 Year in Advance - most airlines make their seats available online 1 year in advance, often offering you the best price and seat selections.

    • This is the best time to book in advance for summer, holidays, and school vacation periods. Frequent flyer seats are limited in number per flight, and this would be a good time to get to use them.

  •  Months in Advance – after 1 year, the airfares and frequent flyer points needed start going up each month or more frequently.

    • Airfares increase the most at 90 days, 60 days, and 30 days before departure. This is when the airline makes most of its money from business travelers.

  •  Time of Year – prime times like summer, holidays, and school breaks will be priced higher.

    • Consider non-prime seasons and dates to travel to save on fares. We travel in the off-season (winter) and the shoulder seasons (spring and fall) to avoid the crowds, high summer heat, stressed-out locals, and crazy full flights to have a more relaxed experience.

  •  Day of the Week – Tuesdays and Wednesdays are usually non-prime travel days and fares can be less and seating selection better.

    • I often find lower fares and better seats on these days to travel. If you can't find seats together on other days, consider looking on these days.

Here is a quick reference to airline alliances. If there is a flight you're looking at within an alliance, look at the airfare for the same flight for each airline within that alliance for possible cheaper fares.

SkyTeam is a partnership between 20 airlines worldwide, operating routes to 1,000-plus destinations. Delta Air Lines is a member.

Star Alliance is a partnership between 26 airlines worldwide, operating routes to 1,200-plus destinations, with even more with their connection partners. United Airlines is a member.

Oneworld is a partnership between 13 airlines worldwide, operating routes to 1,800-plus destinations. American Airlines is a member.

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Want to read blogs in this series? Check out the blog Travel section.


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